2016 Babe of the Year: Adrienne Dawes
In the first few months of the new year, we're celebrating the babes who helped buoy our community in 2016 with their inspiring ambition, work and success.
As Adrienne Dawes tells it, 2016 was a super crazy year for the multi-hyphenate playwright, director, producer, and all around creative force. In addition to writing and/or producing three sold out productions last year — Denim Doves, Love Me Tinder, and Doper than Dope — Dawes also ran the show at Heckle Her, an Austin-based production company committed to original comedies featuring people of color.
Though Dawes is currently in Oklahoma as part of the 2017 class of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, she hopes that 2016 won't be the last that Austin sees of her and her production company — we hope so as well.
Where does the drive to do what you do — even when the struggle bus pulls up — come from?
I think a lot of what drives my hustle is that I've had an opportunity to meet and work with so many incredible performers. I love watching them work and I love watching an audience watch them perform. So even though my job requires me to do some really unpleasant, uncomfortable, and often tedious things, it's all about that magic moment when I can see the audience fall a little bit in love with a performer or a performance for the first time. It is a pretty powerful moment of connection that hits me really hard, whether I'm the writer, director or producer. I hustle for those moments.
What have been your favorite moments of creative energy this past year?
This year has been super crazy for me . . . I think each and every month had a favorite moment (or two) of creative energy. I was very full — my plate overfloweth. I think my absolute favorite moment happened very early on in February when I had 2 sold out performances of 2 totally different shows (Denim Doves; Love Me Tinder) that I worked on in 2 totally different capacities (playwright; director-producer) play in the same venue at the same time (Salvage Vanguard mainstage and studio theater). I stood in the lobby in a specific place so I could hear both audiences' reactions during the shows. It was so crazy to be able to hear the laughter of one room crossfade into the laughter of another room. That's my happy place. You can bury me right there.
What have been the most challenging moments throughout your career and perhaps in this year in particular?
I repeat: This year has been super crazy for me . . . every happy creative moment this year was matched with some sort of personal tragedy or loss. Usually those feelings have some distance or time between them . . . so to feel that overlap or overlay of big emotions all the time felt really, really weird.
I think that with my career overall, it will always be a challenge for me to keep focused on making the work and not let myself get too distracted by responses to the work. I say that about both rejection/failure AND recognition/success. While the latter is WAY friendlier than the former (yes I will take a trophy over a template rejection letter ANY DAY), I want to keep focused on what is most important to me: making new and interesting work with the people I love.
What's the one thing you're most proud of accomplishing this past year?
Hopefully 2016 is not my final year of creating work under Heckle Her here in Austin . . . but if it is, I will definitely look back and feel extremely proud of what we created. Our shows were made and received with so much love. I continue to feel really grateful that I got to have these experiences and the great company I got to share it with.